Rob Reviews "You Hurt My Feelings"
I have always supported actors being allowed to explore the space of the roles they take so they don’t feel completely handcuffed to the material word-for-word. A healthy level of improv can often times take a performance AND a story to the next level, but there can be a fine line between enhancement and simply “meh”. Unfortunately, You Hurt My Feelings does not seem to walk that line well.
This is simply the story of Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Don (Tobias Menzies from Game of Thrones), a married couple who are a writer and therapist, respectively. Beth and her best friend, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), decide to surprise Don while he is spending time with Sarah’s husband, Mark (Succession’s Arian Moayed), while they are hanging out but find that Don’s opinion on Beth’s latest book is not what he told her it was. There are also subplots of Don’s doubts of his skills, the life direction of their son (Owen Teague), and Mark’s career, but none of it really has any impact on anything more than to try and fill enough time to make this a feature film.
My first issue with this film is how it doesn’t even get to the “jumping off” point of the plot until over a third of the way through its run time. It just seems to meander its way there, and once it did, I was hoping it would up the entertainment factor. However, if I were put a proverbial over/under on something that has to do with You Hurt My Feelings, it would be 65% in the amount of improvisation that exists on what made it to the screen. While it may not be seen that way to a lot of people, I have watched enough films to really have this stick out for me in a way where conversations seem to be a lot of the dog-chasing-its-tail-until-it-wears-itself-out types of things. At no point do I really feel bad for any of these characters and their story arcs, but I also didn’t find myself hating them on any level either; they all just are. There are a couple of cameos that seem shoehorned into the plot to try to inject some humor where the rest of it falls short, but as many people have alluded to for this film, it’s from A24 who is not really known for comedy. I do wonder if its awkwardness is what fits it into its distribution studio catalog without sticking out too much.
Seemingly to bookend the first act, the third seems to travel all over the place with no real sense of where it wants to land. It does end on a certain level and in a way that seems like there were choices to be made so multiple endings were filmed and one was chosen. I don’t feel like they should have released multiple endings a la Clue, but there may be some things on the home video release that would show things finishing differently.
In a world where I have seen films MUCH worse than You Hurt My Feelings, there is a very good chance that this one will wind up in the middle of the pack when the calendar turns over to a new year. I would not say to avoid this film, but it might be a good one to have on as background noise so you don’t have to pay attention to each and every frame while you are doing other things. And trust me here: I am doing everything possible to avoid a pun as it relates to the title. Really, I am.